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Hayao Miyazaki, director of Studio Ghibli, has a new movie set to debut in the United States on February 17. Miyazaki is best known for films like Spirited Away, which won Best Animated Feature of 2002 at the Academy awards, and Ponyo, released in early 2010, in the states.
Asian culture fanatics are most familiar with his film My Neighbor Totoro, which was originally released in 1996, but has been re-released twice (once in 2002 and again in 2010 with Disney on its side for marketing). Despite being re-released 10 years ago, Totoro is an enduring image among artists and shops specializing in anime related merchandise. Everything from plush, phone charms, and chopstick sets can be found in this popular theme.
While Miyazakiâ€™s films are received eagerly from his loyal fan base in both the U.S. and around the world, the U.S. has proven to be the one market in which Studio Ghibli has fallen through in sales. The specific reason remains unknown, but Pixar and Disney, who have given support to the marketing effort of U.S. distribution of Miyazakiâ€™s films, hypothesize that it has to do with poor marketing.
That is why this year, they have been pushing â€˜Arriettyâ€™ through frequent commercials on the Disney channel, both trailers of the movie itself, as well as having the voice actors from the channel talk about the film. The campaign has gone so far as to have a music video recorded, starring Disney’s own Bridget Mendler, known from shows such as Wizards of Waverly Place, Lemonade Mouth, and Good Luck Charlie.
This newest film, The Secret World of Arrietty, was first released in Japan in 2010 and has since been remade with English voice actors for a U.S. and U.K. version. To see the voice actors for both English versions, as well as the original Japanese cast, you can visit Online Ghibli. Aside from Ms. Mendler, other Disney stars have been given voiceover roles in the upcoming film. Among them are David Henrie from Wizards of Waverly Place and Moises Arias from the now concluded Hannah Montana series.
Disney has not only promoted ArriettyÂ to fans of Disney Channel shows, but also to fans of the book the film is based upon, namely Mary Nortonâ€™s The Borrowers, in the hopes of widening Miyazakiâ€™s fan base. The movie and book follow the adventures of a family of tiny people as they use lost objects to make their way through the world and come up against giant enemies that range from aggravated cats to curious humans.